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Why should men be exempted from house chores?

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th September 2011 08:00 PM

Chris and Sheba’s marriage had always been a great one, but after the arrival of their two boys Topher, 6, and Tomie 3, their harmony is on test. With no maid, keeping the house tidy is a challenge.

Chris and Sheba’s marriage had always been a great one, but after the arrival of their two boys Topher, 6, and Tomie 3, their harmony is on test. With no maid, keeping the house tidy is a challenge.

By Doreen Murungi

Chris and Sheba’s marriage had always been a great one, but after the arrival of their two boys Topher, 6, and Tomie 3, their harmony is on test. With no maid, keeping the house tidy is a challenge.

Recently, Sheba returned home from work three hours past her usual time since she had had an extremely busy day only to find her husband, who is on leave, with his two brothers seated in front of the TV flipping through channels. Their younger son was asleep on the sofa wearing a shirt stained with yoghurt, the lunch dishes were in the sink and no one had bothered to replace the used up toilet roll.

No sooner had she set foot in the house than Chris mumbled, “Thank God you are back, I was beginning to wonder what we will be having for dinner,” a statement that infuriated an exhausted Sheba.

“I was hurt that my spouse could not help me with some of the house chores,” Sheba says, and adds that this seems the case with most of her female friends, who are often left feeling like single parents of not just their children, but their spouses too.

Sheba’s wish to have her husband help her is far from what women raised back in the day would hope for. In the past, culture dictated that girls spent time at home helping their mothers with house work. Incidentally, the same mothers raised boys, who did not know any housework and they never saw their fathers step in the kitchen or pick out a shirt. They knew men’s tasks were outside the home.

And “Mr Enlightened” still holds onto the belief that house work is the woman’s preserve to the extent that a man who dares mention he helps with those tasks is teased by his male counterparts and called a lesser man.

Trouble is many women are clocking just as many hours as men at their workplaces and yet the housework still needs to be done.

“The partner who has fewer commitments usually takes on more of the housework and women usually have a lighter load compared to men,” argues Mary Nsamba, a marital coach.

Nsamba’s argument would be viable in the day where women were mostly housewives, but today, more women are taking more male-oriented jobs and using a lot of energy to do them.

This begs the question since women are working to bring money home; shouldn’t men help with house work?

“No way,” says Ashraf, who insists a man is not made for home duties. He reasons that the partner who brings more money to the home should be excused from house work. Yet interestingly countless women bring heavier pay checks, but end up doing the bigger share of housework.

George Masuba, a counsellor, says the home is the responsibility of both partners and income should not determine who doe more work than the other, “If we computed energy into income, the woman may end up doing much more,” he affirms.

Deus Batanda, a civil engineer, says men help, but women never regard what they do as work. “My wife fusses over me not washing the dishes, but I never see her mowing the lawn or washing the car,” he says.

According to Reverend Willy Akena, the woman was taken from the rib, which means couples need to walk side by side, “even at home, they need to handle tasks jointly,” he says.

However, Akena stresses that the woman should never force the man to do what he does not want to do, “there should be mutual agreement.”

On the other hand, Pastor Mark Kigozi says sharing house chores is a matter of love. “Couples need to be sensitive to one another’s needs. If you are both sharing the responsibility of earning, it is right to help each other, if you work together, it gives you enough time with each other,” he says.

Masuba agrees that sharing duties has a positive effect on the family and children and it encourages responsibility in the home.

However, Batanda cautions that men should help with less feminine roles, so their sons do not grow up with no understanding of what a man is meant to do.

Contrary to that, Masuba says men should be involved even in those activities considered feminine, “it will help the children look at the father as a team member and it makes the children know men have a role to play in a home,” says Masuba.

Teach children chores irrespective of their gender, as they grow up, they will not feel like there are roles for girls that boys should not do,” urges Masuba.

Rev. John Balende believes a man can pitch in occasionally, adding that it has to be out of his will and not pushed by his wife. “Women would handle a home better, they were designed for tasks such as those; there are so many forces that have changed the order of things and that is why women can afford to disagree over house work that our mothers did without complaining, women should not complain about housework, when she does it happily, the man is forced to come in and help occasionally,” argues Balende.

According to online sources, sons raised in a home where fathers were engaged in housework showed more feminine, but no less masculine characteristics of gender role behaviour.

Joseph Musaalo, a counselling psychologist, says doing feminine duties does not make a man the woman of the house. However, he emphasises there is need for the father to do more masculine duties with his sons.

Annette Kirabira, a counselling psychologist agrees that a son watching his father doing house chores does not create confusion for the boy. “It is the attitude with which the father does the work; if he sends confusing signals that is what the child will pick,” she says.

Kirabira says as much as it is not a taboo for the man to help, it is the woman’s role to manage the home. “Even if the man helps, the woman is supposed to oversee,’ Kirabira points out. She adds that women have picked ideas from diffe

Why should men be exempted from house chores?

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